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Tasty Tuesday: Beercan Chicken with Spice Rub

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Have you had beercan chicken?  If not, you really need to try it.  Because of the way it’s cooked, it’s crispy on the outside but the beer keeps it moist and tender on the inside.  In fact, the last time I made it in the oven, things went awry and it stayed in there a GOOD HOUR longer than it should have.  It was still moist and fall off the bone tender and delicious!

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For the spice rub:

Stir together the following ingredients:
2 tablespoons non-iodized salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons blazing bourbon pepper (can substitute regular pepper or your favourite blend here; lemon pepper is really nice in this too!)

You can vary the ingredients in the spice rub according to what you prefer. Experiment with it!  There are some tasty commercial rubs available too but they’re so easy to whip up that I just make my own.

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This usually makes enough rub for 2 whole chickens.  Make sure to rub it all over the chicken, getting into all the creases and folds (under the wings and such).  You can rub this on just before you cook the chicken but letting it sit on the chicken for a while (as you would with a liquid marinade) makes it even better.  I usually apply the rub in the morning before I’m going to cook the chicken, although you could even do it the night before. 

To make the beercan chicken:

You need about a 4 lb. chicken, a little olive oil (I use about a tablespoon), the spice rub, a can of beer – well actually you only need about half a can of beer (or alternative), and some cooking spray for the basics.  Remove the giblets from the chicken if needed, rinse the chicken inside and out, and dry off with paper towels.  Give the chicken a rubdown with some olive oil and then with the dry rub.  I like to use some of the rub on the inside of the chicken too for added flavour. 

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Spray the beer can with some cooking spray for ease of removal.  I also spray the grill surface to prevent the rub and juices from sticking to it.  If I’m using a beercan chicken pan or using a roasting pan or something similar to make this in the oven instead of the grill, I also cover those with foil and then spray with cooking spray to make the cleanup much easier.  Place the beer can on a flat surface and shove the cavity of the chicken down over the beer can.  I have a special beercan chicken pan that has these supports on each side to help hold the chicken up.  It came with two pans in a package and was only about $5 at my local hardware store.  I know they are widely available at stores and online. 

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If you don’t have the special pan, you will want to create sort of a tripod effect with the chicken’s two legs and the beercan to hold the chicken up on the grill or in the pan if you’re cooking in the oven.  Cook the chicken over medium-high indirect heat, covered for about an hour and a half – I usually check it at the one hour point and then every 15 minutes thereafter until it’s done.  You want the internal temperature reading with a meat thermometer to read 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh.  If cooking in an oven, I use a setting of 375 degrees F and cook it for about an hour and a half.  Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes prior to serving to allow the juices to settle back into the meat.

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Now for some variations:  First of all, you don’t HAVE to use beer.  You can use a can of pop with wonderful results as well.  I sometimes even dump out what was in the can and put in some broth, wine, or fruit juice instead.  You can even make a liquid marinade and put that in the can.  You just want to be sure to have about a half a can of liquid so that as it cooks it will boil up and the liquids will be absorbed and infused into the chicken.  You can also toss in some other things in the can of liquid.  If I’m doing a rub that has lemon pepper in it, then I cut up some small bits of fresh lemon and push those down into the can.  Cutting up bits of fresh garlic and onion and putting those in there is another great way to add flavour to the chicken.  I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard that with Cornish game hens, it is really delicious to put tomato paste in the can with some Italian herbs.

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